It's easy to think that meeting the tighter diesel emissions limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 2007 truck diesels is simply a problem for engine manufacturers.

But there will be so much going on in next year's iron that engine makers are relying on the expertise of key suppliers to help them meet the new standards with the best possible results.

“When it comes to engine makers' 2007 requirements, we're not talking about just pulling a commodity switch off a shelf,” says Tony Thorne, engineering manager for Index Sensors & Controls, Inc., “but partnering with our customers to provide a systems-designed solution.

“Being able to utilize our applications knowledge,” he adds, “we help ensure that proper sensing solutions can meet tomorrow's complex emissions control requirements.”

Index specializes in providing both standard and custom-engineered switches, sensors and controls for temperature, pressure and air conditioning requirements on industrial, vehicle, engine and equipment applications.

The Stanwood, WA-based firm prides itself on manufacturing for “precision, protection, intelligence and extreme durability.”

According to Thorne, these attributes are extremely important to engine manufacturers, which he says have turned to Index to provide custom-engineered solutions for heavy-duty diesels that will be EPA '07-compliant.

“One of Index's key strengths,” says Thorne, “is that we are a one-stop shop with almost 30 years of applications experience. We can set up to build 100 pieces or we can run a 10,000-piece order. That's important as a lot of people are scrambling to meet the upcoming diesel emissions regulations.”

He notes that many suppliers do not have a specific heavy-duty vehicle market focus or are either unwilling or unable to respond quickly to engine makers' switch requirements. “They are focused on the automotive industry and volume-driven sales,” he says

Thorne points out that typical high-horsepower engine production runs range from 500 to 10,000 units. Developing a new part for a production run of that size may be difficult for commodity suppliers. “Index takes pride in differentiating ourselves from the commodity suppliers,” he says. “We add value by providing what you need, when you need it.

“We work directly with engine manufacturers to understand their requirements and very quickly provide them with samples,” Thorne continues. “Our flexibility allows us to respond directly to design engineers and our capacity allows us to meet customer demand.

“The '07 engines will run hotter to meet the emissions standards,” he reports. “As the engine runs hotter, it becomes more critical to get accurate information to the engine control module. Highly engineered combinations of electronic switches, sensors and mechanical switches are essential to accomplish this.”

Whether mechanical or electronic, these temperature and pressure switches and sensors must be durable and robust to stand up to a heavy-duty operating environment for the life of an engine, according to Thorne.

“We've learned from our customers that our switches have tighter tolerances and are more accurate,” he relates. “We can fine-tune them to a very tight window, which is key to reducing emissions. For the ECM to function correctly, everything must be kept in a very narrow band.

“The evolution of emissions regulations from '02 and now to '07 and then on to '10,” says Thorne, “requires increasingly complex engineering challenges for truck engine manufacturers. Index looks forward to partnering with our customers to meet these challenges.”